Dennis Friest, Hardin County

Farms: Corn, soybeans and farrow-to-finish hog operation

Conservation practices used: Wetland, waterways, split-apply nitrogen, manure management

Benefits of nutrient trials: In 2000 we began collecting data and doing replicated trials on nitrogen. This made me realize I don’t need to apply as much as previously thought. By only putting as much nitrogen as the crop needs with precision technology, we’re feeding the plant when it needs fed, which maximizes crop development and is good for the environment.

Importance of 4Rs: We utilize manure from our farrow-to-finish operation; we treat manure as a nutrient. Mother Nature throws something different at us each year. When there’s too much rain, we are at risk of losing nitrogen from the fields. That’s why it’s important to follow the 4Rs – placing the right nutrient at the right time, at the right rate and at the right place. We use 40% less nitrogen than we did 20 years ago.

“There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to farming. We have different topography and soil types across the state. It’s important to consider the conservation practices that improve the land for generations to come.”

Using technology: To remain on the cutting edge of production you need precision technology tools. We see the economic and environmental benefits of precisely placing fertilizer where the plant benefits the most. Farming isn’t a do-it-the-same-way-every-year kind of business. We need to be adaptable to new technology and new production techniques because we can do a better job each year being stewards of the land.

Advice for farmers: Look at your own farm and do some trials to figure out what is best for your situation. Use other farmers as a source of information to find out what works for them. As farmers we have a lot of tools we can use to manage crops that improve productivity as well as the environment. Data helps us make best management decisions.